“Find your balance.”
Sounds like something a wise spiritual adviser or life coach would say. No problem. I’m sure my balance is hiding under the covers where my kid stashed two boxes of granola bars and has been bingeing on chocolate and oats for the past two nights. Or maybe my balance got dropped on the driveway and smashed into pieces like my daughter’s phone did yesterday. Or maybe, just maybe I washed my balance down the sink when I cleaned up the cat vomit I stepped in at three o’clock the other morning.
That balance is a tricky thing to keep track of.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve got it all under control. The house is in
relative order, the bills are paid, the kids are wearing somewhat clean
clothes, the words are flowing, and I know what I’m making for dinner before
five PM. Other times things are completely out of whack. The dog is running
loose in the neighborhood, the kid misses the bus, making me late for critique
group, no time to get to the store and I’ve got a deadline to meet so it’s
cereal for dinner (again!)
As someone who struggles to find her balance every day, here are some tips that might help you get a better handle on it:
Even if I don’t have all my crap together, if I fake it, sometimes things miraculously fall into place. The house may be burning down around me but I sound uber professional on the call with my agent, right Jess? Okay, so it’s just our testy smoke alarm that goes off every single time we heat up pizza. I haven’t actually burned the house down (yet.) But I’ve found that if my attitude projects calm and control even if my insides are flip-flopping all over the place, sometimes things settle down on their own. Sometimes.
Plan Through the Pain
To me, the idea of keeping a strict calendar and blocking out time for every single task is like listening to someone rake their nails down a chalkboard over and over and over again. I’m more of a fly by the seat of my wrinkled pants kinda gal. I have a friend who schedules her weekends in 15-minute increments. My blood pressure skyrockets when I think about trying to be that accountable. But… I bought myself a Happy Planner and I have pencil markings on various days and even a couple of weeks. It’s a start. I’ve found that when I can plug my ears and ignore the nails on the chalkboard I can actually do a little planning. It helps me focus, make better use of my time and be more productive. It’s just soooooooooo painful. I’m working on it.
Sleep In Tree Pose
Just kidding. Imagine how awesome that would be though… if you could do yoga while you were sleeping. Total multi-tasking. Two points here… Taking time for yourself, whether it’s balancing in tree pose in a hot vinyasa yoga class or faking a migraine so you can sneak away and take a nap, it’s important to find some “me” time in every day. With all of the priorities competing for your attention, even though it might feel counterproductive, taking a break to refill your “bucket” is worth the dividends you’ll reap later by not being depleted. I know this can be hard to do, but even if you just lock yourself in the bathroom for ten minutes and play a few levels of Candy Crush, it can give you that extra boost of energy to make it through dinner and the bedtime routine. Not that I’ve ever done that myself. Honest, Mr. Crush.
Relegate to Delegate
Yes, there are child labor laws, but I don’t think that applies to one’s OWN children, right? If you have the funds to hire a virtual assistant for your writing business or someone to clean the house or deliver meals to free up more of your time, JUST DO IT! If you don’t have the funds, force your children into service. Find their currency… extra screen time, a trip to the mall, tickets to that PG-13 movie that you told them they can’t see… whatever it takes if you can enlist the help of others so you can take the time you need to do the stuff you really need to, it will alleviate that feeling of being overwhelmed. My kids will work for new apps, trips to the fro-yo store and time on YouTube. Not that I exploit my children. I still can’t find any amount of currency to get my girls to scrub the pee off the bathroom walls from their brother. #BoyMama
Just say WTF
Sometimes you just have to throw your hands in the air and say “WTF!” Take time to smell the lilacs. Why does my favorite flower only bloom a few weeks out of the year?!?! If the house is filthy, the laundry is piled up, you’re thousands of words behind schedule… have a WTF day and forget it all. Throw the puppies in the car and go to the dog park. Meet a friend for a glass of wine at the new place with an outdoor patio. Get tix to a concert and hug the speaker all night (my personal fave). My point is… drastic times call for drastic measures. If your life is so out of whack that you can’t find the balance by doing the things above, maybe you need a huge chunk of “me” time to even out that see saw. If nothing else, you might end up with a new story idea.
There you go. Some realistic and maybe some not so realistic tips to find your own yin-yang. What do YOU do to keep your balance?